New month, new books to review. This month I read seven books, including two graphic novels. I considered reading only romance books because it’s February, but they’re not really my thing. It’s hard to concentrate on a romance book when I’m too busy rolling my eyes at how perfect everything is. So instead, I went the thriller + zombie road, of course.
If you read my January Wrap Up, you’ll know I like to organise the books I review into categories:
My favourite reads of February
Olive by Emma Gannon
I think this book might be my favourite ever? It was weird having my own thoughts written down for me to read. Olive is a 30-something magazine editor living in London (so basically she’s living my dream) that realises she doesn’t want to have kids, ever. This decision will affect the relationship with her now ex-boyfriend and some of her closest friends.
I’ve known since I was young that I never wanted to have children, and it’s weird to me when I see old classmates already having kids and realising some women actually want to be mothers. Reading Olive helped validate my feelings against having babies, and the book showed many female characters and their child-free reasons, but Olive was the one I related to the most. I would say, though, if you love children and want to start a family, don’t read this book, it will make you super mad!
I highlighted many passages but my favourites are:
Holding a new baby is like a new test every time. Will I now, finally, maybe, feel something? I’d think. Whenever women shouted, ‘Oww, what a cute baby! My ovaries! They just twitched!’ I would think there was something incredibly wrong with me because my ovaries have never twitched. There was no desire. Not even a slight, mild ache.
‘Well, you must remember that no decision is ever really the wrong decision. Because it’s the decision you made at the time. Respect your past self and her choices,’
Pretending by Holly Bourne
I usually avoid books about sexual assault. I’ve never read a book where the main focus is the protagonist’s assault and how she finds a way to keep her sanity. But Holly Bourne is one of my favourite writers, and I knew if there was someone who could write about this topic thoughtfully, it would be her.
Pretending follows April and her messy and destructive dating life after being assaulted. She’s tired of men, tired of being disappointed and hurt by them, and she’s starting to lose it. This book had a lot of rage against men, it was uncomfortable to read some times because of the hate and pain that came through the pages, but it was also funny and charming in a Holly Bourne way. I loved it.
I look back at my highlights, and most of them are too emotional or depressing for this blog post.
‘How are you anyway?’
‘Dead inside,’ I reply. ‘But in a good way. A useful way. I feel like I’m at the start of something good. Less dramatic.’
I’ve deliberately arrived late to make tonight as short and painless as possible.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This book reminded me so much of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It has the same chaotic energy, with an unreliable female narrator who is always drunk and makes you doubt if the murder she saw through her window was even real. I read The Girl on the Train in 2015, when it came out, and it was my first introduction to thrillers. Parts of the book feel like A. J. Finn got some inspirations from Paula Hawkins.
Anna Fox is agoraphobic, meaning she can’t leave her house in New York, where she lives alone. She spends most of her time spying on her neighbours with her camera and drinking too much. Until one day, she sees something terrible happening in front of her, but all the clues point to her imagining things. This book was messy, and it took some predictable turns, but I must say I didn’t expect that ending.
I went back to my kindle to check the highlights I saved, but none of them make any sense out of context!
I was born lonely, she’d answered. I wasn’t. I was made lonely.
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
I love Rachel Hawkins, queen of YA. I was super excited to read her new novel for adults, and The Wife Upstairs didn’t disappoint, even if the book’s own title is a massive spoiler. This book has all you need for an entertaining Sunday read: rich people with dirty secrets, a golddigger, drama, murder and a few sociopaths. Just precisely what I needed to read in this extended English lockdown.
I don’t tell him that it’s not even my real name, but the name of a dead girl I knew in a dead life. My real name is equally boring, but it’s one he might hear more often than Jane.
But I’ve been dodging men’s hands since I was twelve, so wishing a man would touch me is a novel experience.
I’m forcing myself to read more non-fiction, but this month I could only manage one book, and what a book, it took me four weeks to finish it, ugh!
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez
I wanted to like this book, and I guess that in a way I did, but it had so much data, so much information that my sleepy brain couldn’t remember anything once I turned the page. If you don’t pay attention while reading this book, you might miss why some glass doors are sexist or why public transport is biased against women.
This book explores how most things in life are designed by men for men. It believes that male is the original, the universal, and female is just a secondary form. And while I did agree on a lot of things this book said, and I learned a lot, it also felt like it was reinforcing the sexist message that women are only caretakers and they belong in a maternal role, which I know was not the intention of the book, but that’s how it felt to me.
The fact is that worth is a matter of opinion, and opinion is informed by culture. And if that culture is as male-biased as ours is, it can’t help but be biased against women. By default.
The result of this deeply male-dominated culture is that the male experience, the male perspective, has come to be seen as universal, while the female experience – that of half the global population, after all – is seen as, well, niche.
I needed something to get my mind off the big-data non-fiction book I was reading this month. I needed something happy, easy on the eyes and the brain, which is why I chose to read iZombie.
iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World & Vol. 2: uVampire by Chris Roberson
I watched the show iZombie when it came out, and I knew it was loosely based on the comics. But now that I’ve read the first two volumes, I must say, the tv series and the comics are nothing alike. I prefer the tv series, I think the characters in the comics are a bit bland, but I like the vampire cult and the ghost girl from the comics.